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A matter of survival . . .

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The Devil's Gridiron
 
Desert Rat in a Concrete Jungle

Moving On


 

 

A Continuing Web Diary

 

 
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Wednesday February 18, 2004 - Explosion

Commuting the concrete jungle with my wife one more time, we note with some satisfaction a routine 34 miles in 55 minutes.

According to NPR the frenzy in San Francisco continues, the count now reaching over 2600 couples. One judge has postponed his decision on the subject until Friday and another has issued a non-binding request for the city to quit issuing marriage licenses -- which of course was ignored. He'll look at it again in six weeks. I chuckle out loud to hear that a number of the newly married have been deputized by the city to perform marriage ceremonies for their peers. It's a little like Pandora's proverbial box -- no one, in my mind, will ever get the issue put back under the neat little carpet from which it has been swept.

We're informed today that the MTBE phase-out has been halted by the Bush administration despite 25 years of heavy nationwide pollution of groundwater3. And in a separate development, the Union of Concerned Scientists has issued a letter to the Bush administration signed by sixty of today's pre-eminent scientists protesting that the administration is deliberately misleading the public concerning many findings of the scientific community, and is intentionally disabling many government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency. So the systematic rape of the United States from within continues . . . who needs Osama bin Laden?

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Tuesday February 17, 2004 - Commute II

Today I do a double round-trip through the gauntlet to the east valley to deliver and pick up my soul mate, and to get estimates on the repair of the damage to our vehicle that was acquired last evening.

We've simplified our route to Cactus, Pima, and McKellips; but it turns out you can't get there that way so we fill in the holes with two stints on Loop 101. While time and distance appear reasonable, it isn't a good plan due to the number of turns and stoplights, so on the way back across town I switch to Hayden between McKellips and Cactus Roads. That works well, at 55 minutes and 34 miles. In addition to scenic Indian Bend Wash, it brings me past Joe Foss, a street just below McDowell Road. I'm not sure what Joe Foss is doing on the Devil's Gridiron, but he was a home-grown South Dakota hero, a celebrated Air Force pilot, back in the fifties when I was growing up.

Enroute I tune in National Public Radio, to the second day of gay marriages in San Francisco while the bigot dogs-in-a-manger try their best to prolong the withholding of equal rights with respect to hospital visits, medical plans, inheritance and so forth.

I also note with some interest an announcement of the addition of the '@' sign to the official Morse code, and a study suggesting a "link" between use of antibiotics and breast cancer. Of course, this link could be entirely artificial; for example, maybe the conditions which require antibiotics also make women more susceptible to breast cancer.

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Monday February 16, 2004 - Hello Again?

My soul mate received a hand delivered welcome message this evening from a new valley resident whose enthusiasm somewhat surpassed his intellect. Thinking with his prostate instead of his brain, he fed all available testosterone directly through his carburetor into the rear end of our vehicle while my wife sat patiently with everyone else at the intersection, waiting for the emergency vehicle to pass. Compounding the offense, he couldn't stay until the police arrived for fear of confiscation of his pickup. Indeed, the two months' expired temporary plates had replaced his stolen New Mexico plates back in November. Offenses? Expired plates, hit and run, not keeping his vehicle under control, and did I mention no insurance?

To his credit, he volunteered his address and phone number before leaving and promptly returned when called and threatened by the officer. To the credit of the Phoenix police, he was issued one ticket -- for driving with expired plates. The officer removed the plates from his vehicle, allowing him to drive home as well as to work in the coming days. To my soul mate's credit, she didn't run off screaming into the night despite the urge. After all it only cost her the $500 deductible; so no harm done, right?

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Saturday February 14, 2004 - Valentines' Day: Of Mogwais And Men

Mogwai II - February 14, 2004

Mogwai II announced her month-early arrival at approx. 6:45 this Valentines' evening. She opened her eyes, blinked several times at the brilliant intensity of the evening twilight, and let out a healthy, spine-tingling, ear ossifying squall. Welcome to the Devil's Gridiron, Mogwai! At 5 lbs, 15 oz, she and Mom are doing fine. To prove it to the adoring fans stacked up in the hallway she demanded a swig of water, chased it down with two ounces of formula, burped and wiped it off on her mitten, then let out a big bear sigh and promptly went to sleep. She'll be dragging Mom home tomorrow afternoon.

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Friday February 13, 2004 - Dogs In A Manger

So Massachusetts is going to have gay marriages -- at least for a short period of time until those with nothing to do but mind other people's business have time to regain control of other's lives. So how is it, exactly, that having gay marriages will degrade my own?

It isn't important what others base their marriage on as long as I base my own on the correct religious, moral and charitable values. Yes, they're separate. I've observed that charity and proper treatment of others is not a part of many people's Christianity. Too bad; I don't know how they can call what they practice religion.

Nothing, no one can degrade my own marriage except me; it is a covenant between God and me. There's no third party. Even my wife cannot degrade my marriage to her -- she can only degrade her own marriage to me. I don't base my own self-esteem on the actions of others -- I take full responsibility myself; I base it upon my own actions.

But you have to be at peace with yourself before you can be at peace with others. Take some responsibility. If you truly feel that your marriage will be degraded by the actions or covenants of a third party, it's time you looked at yourself. Once you've solved your own problems, once you've made peace with God and your fellow man your marriage will not be assailable by anyone or anything beyond yourself.

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Thursday February 12, 2004 - Fifth Largest City

National Public Radio / Morning Edition - The Phoenix metropolitan area is the fifth largest city in the U.S.  --Wonderful--  And they're playing a short dairy for Arizona Week, by a young lady who moved to the Valley of the Sun from the east. She reports barebones auto insurance is three times as expensive in Phoenix as a full-blown policy in the small Virginia town she came from. We knew what we were coming back to, but gimmie a break.

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Thursday February 5, 2004 - The Commute

Up at 6:00 am, my soul mate prepares for her daily 35-mile drive to work. Today I am going with her to share the ordeal she faces driving so far every day.

She dislikes freeway driving, particularly with the severe slowdowns experienced during rush hour and in fact many other times during the week, and so her usual route takes her across fast-moving city streets -- Sweetwater east to Cave Creek Road, southwest to Mountain View, east to 12th Street, south to Northern, east to 16th Street, south to University, east to Power Road, and south to E. Baywood Avenue. It takes 90 minutes on a good day, and you don't want to know about the bad.

Today, I am behind the wheel and have chosen a route that we hope will keep us out of heavy city traffic while avoiding the worst freeway slowdowns. We pick up Sweetwater east to Cave Creek Road, south to Cactus, east to Loop 101, south to Loop 202, northeast to McKellips Road, east to Power Road, and south to E. Baywood Avenue. It takes us exactly 60 minutes; we realize afterward that we should have gotten off Loop 101 at McKellips Road -- it would have meant about 2.5 more miles of surface streets in exchange for four fewer miles of freeway, probably a toss-up time-wise. We do experience moderate slowdowns over about a third of our Loop 101 distance, but before we reach Loop 202 we're at full speed again and thumbing our noses at the poor slobs lined up at a standstill for two miles to take Loop 202 west. The surface street portions of the trip are remarkably clear of traffic for the most part, especially in Mesa. We chock it up to the route, which skirts the city rather than plunging through the heart of it. All in all, it feels pretty good to me, but my soul mate still has some reservations about the freeway portion of the trip.

I let her off at the hospital and eat breakfast at McDonalds, where I am surrounded by over a dozen retired couples, all snow-birds, kibitzing about where they've been this winter and where they're going next. It reminds me of the one benefit of living in Metropolis --besides the darkness of concrete and steel, there is also a certain brighter ambience produced by the reliable, moderate weather. Like me, they've left their coats at home in favor of shirtsleeves and in some cases shorts; at 8:30 am I estimate the outdoor temperature to be around 65 degrees.

Once breakfast has been converted to cholesterol to feed my vascular system I get down to business, spending much of the day in our vehicle pouring over family archives which I've brought along, the catalyst in extracting a chronology of obscure and irrelevant micro-misadventures from the dusty, web-infested labyrinths of my mind. I come up with a smattering of diverse, long-forgotten fragments which keep me busy typing furiously on my handheld all day, the only interruptions being brief refreshment and bathroom forays from the parking lot back into McDonalds. At lunchtime I take lunch to my soul mate, and we have a glorious half hour visit.

The day passes quickly, and at 4:30 we start the journey home, retracing the morning route with the one correction at McKellips to Loop 101. Traffic seems heavier, but once again we manage it in exactly one hour. 7:00 am to 5:30 pm -- 10.5 hours; not bad for a day on the Devil's Gridiron.

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Saturday January 31, 2004 - Cosmic Collision Averted

It's possible our house will not slide off into a black hole after all. With the help of our son, new garden implements and face masks, sufficient material was found under the house -- including a high percentage of rock -- and the hole from hell was filled today. Miraculously, lying on our stomachs and scraping miniscule measures of motley materials from remote reaches of the underworld put it to rest in about three hours. Then came dust allergies, clothes washing, and showers -- add two hours; not bad for a day's work.

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Saturday January 17, 2004 - The Shower

Duty calls, and we're off to a baby shower on Saturday afternoon.

Besides the core group of women, Panela, Shyre, Yapper, Eve, Sabrine, Nennae, Deetha (names have been changed to protect the innocent), there are Avin, Michelet #1a, and ToeRings. Michelet #1b is missing on this occasion. In addition, there are the usual children, Eyeleaha, Shawnefu (the Mogwai) with square tie-balls in her hair, Khaddi, LeAre, GiggleGlasses, Threena, TwAvin, ball player Shoulders and younger brother GammaRadiation. Additional children included Jarrod, WhiteShirt, Greenie,Flat-Top, and Hiney.

Then there are the high schoolers, Devotion, Jarrod, ballplayer Denver, and miscellaneous husbands, boy friends, brothers Lynn and Babir, and insignificant others.

For the first hour or two we sit around stuffing our faces with soul food -- fried chicken, greens, and cornbread -- while kids of all ages run randomly through the house, in and out like flocks of chickens and farm geese. Eyeleaha, a tweenager, is the self-appointed disk jockey, stopping ever so often to keep the music going for her peers and our ears.

I notice 3 year-old Mogwai is being carried a lot. Always happy, she thrives with or without attention. On this occasion it's a particularly good thing she's tolerant because she appears to have no choice in the matter. Cuteness is a peculiar trait, and tolerance is probably important in determining the degree of cuteness. As I watch, TwAvin pauses to put her down. She turns to go into the kitchen, but before she can take 3 steps Threena picks her up and they all go outside. Curious, I continue watching them through the window. In a space of five minutes the mogwai is handed off to GiggleGlasses, Shoulders, WhiteShirt, and Flat-Top, who is barely big enough to hold her. After a couple of more minutes, Flat-Top puts her down. Once again she is picked up, this time by Greenie. Greenie, a tall six-year-old, carries her around for a while and then hands her off to Hiney, another small squirt who can barely stand upright under the weight but who seems to enjoy it a great deal. Ultimately, Hiney puts her down and she is immediately picked up by GammaRadiation. Like a basketball maneuver, she is quickly handed off to Khaddi, back to Shoulders, then to GiggleGlasses, Jarrod, GammaRadiation, Denver, back to Gamma, and then to WhiteShirt.

Fortunately, WhiteShirt attempts no baskets, but re-enters the house and, standing near his mother (ToeRings), puts the mogwai down. ToeRings picks her up and balances her on a knee. Sabrine is next, followed by Shyre, Yapper, Deetha, Eyeleaha, Avin, and Nennae. That's just about all of the women. Older brother Devotion passes through with his entourage, delicately grabbing sister Mogwai from Nennae on the way through. They head into the high schoolers' quarters where music and loud conversation ensue for the next few minutes.

"Has anyone seen Mogwai?" It's mommy Panela.

I jump up to check the high schoolers' quarters. They're all in there sitting around on chairs, bed and floor carrying on the way high schoolers do, with music blasting and the mogwai officiating from a miniature chair perched atop a dresser like the mascot that she is. I report this to Panela and resume my vigil of observation. I don't think there is anyone there today that hasn't held the mogwai for a few minutes.

Nennae is the self-appointed social director, flitting about taping up decorations and handing out home-made lapel pins commemorating subject matter such as diapers, diaper pins, booties, bassinettes, and the like. She comes around offering everybody a clothespin and explains that it must be given up to anyone catching the owner with legs or arms crossed.

Next she spreads some dozens of cotton balls on the floor. This is a game in which players are obliged to pick up as many as possible with a large plastic spoon while blindfolded and dump them into a salad bowl held over their heads. Babir says it's easy, but with 33 he's beat out by Shyre, 39; and Avin, 45.

A potato walk ensues, each participant carrying the potato between her knees from the starting point and dropping it into a plastic drinking glass on the floor. Avin was the only person to do this without upsetting the glass.

Next, Nennae brings around a length of clothesline covered with clothespins, and we are requested to remove as many as possible with one hand without dropping any. When it's my turn I remove the first clothespin and clip it to the next one before it is removed, then remove that one and clip it to the next, so that I am really only holding one clothespin at a time but none are dropped. At 16 two separate. I catch the longer group while the shorter group are still attached to the line. None are dropped, but it is considered cheating and my turn gets called at the separation. I wind up with 14; she says she's seen better. Eyeleaha wins, the smallest hand to play holding the largest number of clothespins at once, 14. As the games progress, it becomes apparent that the men are enjoying this a lot more than they might openly admit in a peer group.

Finally it's time for the gifts -- diapers, miniature socks, shirts, towels, blankets, booties, mini snap-suits, a bassinette, and other baby paraphernalia. Hoots and hollers from the teenage boys.

Then there's one final game. Break the balloons and follow the instructions inside. One of the prizes is getting to dance with yours truly. Where did that come from? Must be the booby prize. It is apparently a joke, enjoyed by the teenagers who though it up. I oblige, and do my best dancing with Avin. Several people seem to be impressed; I guess our periodic evenings of dancing over last ten years have paid off. Most of the tweenaged girls are directed to dance by themselves and are as a whole embarrassed to do so, quite a change from even a year earlier.

The game is interrupted by a lot of scrambling as everyone goes outside to watch the fire department put out a fire a block down the street. It seems that someone has set fire to a piece of stuffed furniture on a front porch. The house is saved before the firemen arrive by one of the men attending our event, a fast-thinker who turns on a hose and begins wetting down the smoldering eves.

Back in the house, the last game is OBGYN. What is that? No one knows where it came from (except the teenagers, judging from the ensuing guffaws). The tweenaged girls seem to be very keen on the idea, so Deetha comes to the rescue, making up a somewhat-too-progressive game on the fly. The shower honoree is bid to lie down on a couch with a blanket covering her from the waist down. The tweenaged girls, who have appropriately been raised with a complete understanding of sex and child-bearing, are then blindfolded and made to thrust their fingers into a bowl of unknown contents under the far end of the blanket and identify the contents. Unable to do so, they react with various degrees of revulsion. Guffaws from the teen boys watching through the front window. When the blindfolds are removed the bowl is found to contain stewed tomatoes. More revulsion. More guffaws.

My soul mate is dumbfounded. What is the current generation of parents coming to?

Cake and ice cream are dispensed in generous quantities with seconds provided on request; then it's finally time to go home and recuperate.

All in all, everyone seems to have had a good time. I guess.

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Saturday January 17, 2004 - The Hole Enchilada

A man was supposed to come today to look at our hole from hell and give us an estimate on filling it. It's a rounded out, cross-shaped hole about seven or eight feet in length, five or six feet across, and three or four feet deep, tapered upward at one end. A spider web of pipes converge at the main sewer line, embedded in the bottom. Much of the ABC-like material that came out of it appears to be spread compactly across the ground surrounding the area.

If additional material must be brought in, the cost of filling it may be significantly increased, because any such material will have to be carried from the street and dragged under the house one bucket at a time.

The man was supposed to come today, but he didn't. . .

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Friday January 16, 2004 - 23rd Month Anniversary Revisited

With the first seven replacements of ten stolen compact disks in the changer, pursuit of the remaining three continues. The back-ordered Ramsey Lewis, Priceless Jazz Collection arrived on schedule and was picked up at the record shop a couple of weeks ago. The same day a new-looking used copy of Greg Mathieson, For My Friends was found at Zia Records. This Monday James Van Buren, I Ain't Doin' Too Bad was found on the web. The James Van Buren site was at the top of the Google search list. The PayPal purchase was the easiest I have ever made on the web, and the disk reached our mailbox in high fashion today, completing the quest.

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Tuesday January 6, 2004 - Bait and Switch

We continue searching for medical insurance; but alas, there is apparently none available outside of the workplace that will provide any coverage for prescriptions or pre-existing conditions -- ever -- even after the expected yearlong wait for a pre-existing condition clause to expire. And eligibility for Arizona's AHCCCS restricts income to not much over $400/month after medical expenses. Try living on that.

The laws are different for group insurance obtained through an employer and independently acquired insurance. We're not talking about sickly people here; we're talking about healthy people between 55 and 65 years of age. The very fact that a person is on a maintenance drug that corrects a condition to normal is enough for permanent exclusion from most policies. Two such exclusions and you're uninsurable by most companies, with pre-existing condition clauses in the few available policies that re-start periodically to make sure any new conditions are also excluded.

So what do you get for your money? The only example of coverage one broker could provide in return for over $700/month is an operation for appendicitis (a one-time, non-recurring malady that is 100% recoverable). They call it catastrophic insurance. I call it legal robbery. How do you make use of a $3,000,000 lifetime limit when a new malady becomes a pre-existing condition after a maximum of 13 months coverage? And how many people can afford $700/month anyway?

If everyone who needed affordable medical insurance would vote as a block, we could have a national insurance plan before two elections have passed.

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Wednesday December 31, 2003 - One More Time. . .

It's New Year's Eve, and we make arrangements to go dancing at our favorite nightspot, the V. The car picks us up promptly. We arrive in time to select a perfect table, stuff ourselves on succulent soul food, and dance the night away. The magic hour comes and goes with confetti streaking and horns blowing -- and the soulful drone of a Barry White love song in the background. Hanging onto each other like high school kids, we stretch out the last dance into two, then three songs unwilling to give it up. It's 1:00 AM, and the car arrives to escort us home. Five hours are too short for such a perfect evening.

Drat! They were going to serve breakfast in a few minutes. Wish we'd realized that earlier.

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Friday December 26, 2003 - Finally Over

Ah, relief. [ sigh ]

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Thursday December 25, 2003 - Christmas

We arise late, complete dinner-to-go preparations, and depart for a late Christmas celebration with the other half of our family who gather at Grandma's house. We spread out the food, eat and open gifts. It is a laid-back afternoon and evening characterized by too much talk of computers, economics and politics; but everyone has a great time.

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Wednesday December 24, 2003 - Christmas Eve

11:00 am -- The plumber has come and gone, the house has been aired out, and it's not even noon yet. We still have the hole from hell, but it's amazing how much can be accomplished if you throw enough money at it.

Family members start arriving at 6:00 pm. There is music, a movie, good conversation and an abundance of good food. Gifts are opened and everyone enjoys the evening a great deal. We go late into the evening; then, by tradition everyone fills a couple of extra plates with home cooked delicacies to take home. My soul mate pronounces the evening a success.

And with operational indoor plumbing it was the best Christmas Eve ever.

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Tuesday December 23, 2003 - It Looks Like A Normal Day, Only Uglier

It's Christmas Eve eve. I get a call from my soul mate around 4:40 in the afternoon -- the headlights have been left on and the car battery is dead. I breeze across two cities on the north side of the metropolitan area and am successful in jump-starting it, and then follow her home. The clothes washer is filled, and it overflows the shower on the first rinse. It's 6:30 pm. A plumber is called. He shows up about 8:00 and opens a sewer cleanout behind the house, inserts a plumber's snake and goes to work.

Tallinn, Estonia - Copyright (c) 2002, Douglas S. Fox

We sit in the dining room eating a late supper and looking at pictures on a laptop with our man in png2. It is Tallinn, Estonia, and there are many two-century old buildings there with round towers and pointed roofs -- gorgeous old architecture with 3-foot thick walls co-existing with the modern. Buildings in this part of the city are set at many different angles, separated by narrow cobblestone corridors that meet at the corners, turn a few degrees, and continue out of site. I imagine walking down one such path. Looking upward, the already narrow passageway decreases overhead where an upper story overhangs the lower wall by a foot. It is a magical place. I feel dwarfed and insignificant by the massive stone walls.

There is a dungeon somewhere nearby -- I can hear the clanking of chains tightening on a rack, some unfortunate wretch's limbs growing in length with each turn of the screw. Now there is a loud clanging sound coming through the wall. Returning to reality I realize it is emanating from the front bathroom. I jump up and fling the door wide, to a scene lifted directly from some grade B horror movie. There is a great metal probe waving about the room, flopping from side to side, undulating in and out glancing off walls and fixtures -- six feet of flexible steel arm with an ugly hook on the end that looks as if it's designed to wrench the entrails from the abdomen of a large beast or human victim. It has entered the room through the porcelain wall at the base of the toilet. I run screaming from the house. My soul mate exchanges shocked glances with our man in png.

The plumber ceases his activity and comes into the house to inspect the damage. "We'll replace the toilet tonight", he says without further comment. He returns to his work to determine the cause of this wrong turn. It is an improper installation of the sewer cleanout, which seems to have been designed for the sole purpose of attacking the front bathroom toilet from the other end. Before the sewer can be unclogged a new cleanout will have to be installed. A great gaping hole has been found under the house where the over-zealous, under-experienced previous owner installed new piping from the house to the city sewer. Fortunately, this means no digging will be necessary in order to install the new cleanout; unfortunately, three house pillars are perched on the edge of the precipice. Fortunately, they do not appear to have caved into the hole -- yet; unfortunately, the hole will have to be filled before that happens. The toilet replacement isn't going to cost us anything, but the new cleanout will cost us about the same as a cleanout, a toilet and a medium-sized boat, which the plumber is buying himself for Christmas.

You don't argue with a plumber the night before a holiday, especially when you're entertaining the next day -- so we cheerfully bid him Godspeed and make arrangements to cash in our retirement savings. The toilet is removed, and he departs in search of fresh air and a promise to return early the next morning. We put on our nose plugs and bed down for the night. It seemed like a normal day, only uglier.

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Monday December 22, 2003 - Christmas Eve Eve Eve

Our heat-pump air-conditioning has been running almost continuously since we moved into the house. Despite this, the house remains a few degrees cooler than we would like, and the excessive air movement requires us to wear heavy clothing and long sleeves when lounging in the living room. Today we host a heating/air-conditioning expert. It doesn't take him long to find the refrigerant pressure is way too high in the system, killing the kick-start coil and causing compressor overload shutdown shortly after the infrequent successful starts. So much for home repairs, oh previous owner.

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Sunday December 21, 2003 - 23rd Month Anniversary

It's been 23 months to the day since our Jeep was stolen and it is time to replace the ten compact disks, my soul mate's favorites that disappeared with it. I break out the unhappy empty jewel boxes and go through the titles, then head to our local record shop to pick up as many as I can for Christmas.

Chaka KahnEpiphany: The Best Of Chaka Kahn, Vol. One
Teddy PendergrassTp
Luther VandrossThe Night I Fell In Love
Whitney HoustonThe Preacher's Wife
James Brown20 All Time Greatest Hits!
Barry WhiteThe Icon Is Love
Jimmy SmithBack At The Chicken Shack: The Incredible Jimmy Smith
Ramsey LewisPriceless Jazz Collection
Greg MathiesonFor My Friends
James Van BurenI Ain't Doin' Too Bad

Of course they have all of the Pop and Soul. Surprisingly, Jimmy Smith, a Blue Note jazz issue, is available via a simple drive across town. Not so lucky, Ramsey Lewis, which had to be back-ordered. Good luck, and don't hold your breath for pop jazz Greg Mathieson or Blues artist James Van Buren. Well, check out the online stores; then it's off to the used record shops. . .

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Thursday December 18, 2003 - Second Life / First Wife
 
Our Wedding - December 18, 1993 Our Wedding: Las Vegas, Nevada - December 18, 1998

I was born 4144 days ago on Thursday August 13, 1992 -- the beginning of my second life. That was the day I met my wife, my lover, my best friend and soul mate. That was eleven years, four months and five days ago, a very short time by any standard. In that short time I have done more, seen more, lived more life than most people do in a lifetime.

And today is our tenth wedding anniversary. Ten years ago today my soul mate gave me the greatest gift a woman can give a man. But the bigots didn't get it. They missed the point. And five years ago today we were married again by Reverend Richard C. Sample (Santa Clause) in a private drive-up1 wedding in Las Vegas. They still didn't get it. And on our tenth anniversary, the joke is still on them. We're in love -- mad, delirious, wild, devil-may-care, glorious love!

My soul mate liberates me, makes me young, gives me life, supports and encourages me in endeavors I had not previously dreamed of, works hard, plays freely, and never looses her sense of humor -- what more could a man ask of a woman?

Happy anniversary, darling; after ten years you still light up my life! I love you.

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Monday December 15, 2003 - Universe Controlled by Dark Matter

NPR, All Things Considered: I hear the expansion of the universe is speeding up. It isn't really news -- they've known about it for five years, discovered with the Hubble telescope back in '98 (hang onto your hat, Edwin). It seems the universe consists of 70% dark matter.

Dark matter? Is this a Reagan/Bush thing? It's supposed to have a repelling property opposite that of gravity. Sounds like Reaganomics, alright; I think I understand it now. In normal matter gravity provides an attraction between bodies, but in dark matter it trickles down through the universe, causing a reversal of its normal properties, a repelling. Sounds like it works the same way cutting taxes does to put money in the pockets of people who make too little money to pay any taxes, sort of like the no visible means of support bra.

So by extrapolation, it turns out the whole universe is a Dark Empire. I guess Gee Dubyah was right. I'm not sure conquering the universe will stop the acceleration, though -- unless it ends the universe in a Big Bang instead of beginning it with one. Ah, well, at least they have physics backing them up on this. It's too bad physics can't be applied to economics. . .

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the FoxPaw

Monday December 8, 2003 - FoxPaw Server Retrieved

The CortezChronicles.com server, FoxPaw.net, was picked up from its storage at the home of a family member tonight. It may be some weeks before it is resurrected and re-established as the primary server; the NetBSD operating system must first be rebuilt.
 

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Monday December 8, 2003 - Smack!  Turkey After Thanksgiving

6:50 pm -- A car careening down the left-hand turn lane at 45 mph toward the red light at 7th Street and Broadway got his tonight! He saw the pickup edging through traffic at the intersection, and he thought it would clear his path a split-second before his arrival. What he didn't anticipate was the large box-trailer the pickup was towing. When he saw the trailer he veered left and hit the pickup at full speed, jack-knifing the trailer and turning it over. He stumbled free of his ruined car, holding his head where it hit the windshield, and immediately 12 calls were placed to 911 from various cellphones in the area. Strangely, the pickup driver could be seen patting the perp on the back as we pulled away from the intersection. Congratulations, turkey.

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Sunday December 7, 2003 - Four Chairs, Three Boxes, a 45 lb Friden Calculator. . .

. . .and a Partridge In a Pear Tree. Today we got our last stuff out of storage, removed the lock and terminated our contract. We're finished moving.

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Saturday December 6, 2003 - The Flu Clinic

According to radio and TV news, this is the worst year ever for flu. There are two strains, and one of them is 3% deadly. An immunization shot is available for the deadly version, which is supposed to guarantee a lighter case if you come down with it.

We looked up a list of public flu shot offerings on web and came out to a clinic at the Desert Ridge Marketplace, Loop 101 & Tatum, on Saturday. We arrived at 3:30 pm. It's a huge outdoor mall and there are no signs evident telling us where to go. We enter the mall and head east, the shortest means of starting at one end to assure not missing it.

As we reach end of the mall my soul mate somehow spots a sign. "Flu Shots," it says. It's naturally hidden behind a large pillar of the building and covered by several six-foot umbrellas. As we approach, we discover a line of happy, animated shot-seekers already lined up and waiting. There are short people and tall people, skinny people and fat; some dressed in suits and some in shorts and cutoffs; people with dogs on leashes, strollers, high-heels, and flats. It looks a little like a circus sideshow. We turn and follow it with our eyes. It snakes around the front of the booth, along the front of building, and disappears around a corner. We follow it down the side of the building, into a long corridor, thru a doorway, down more corridor, and finally come to the end of it at the rear of the building. This is going to be a three-hour wait.

We get in line. It takes half an hour to detect line movement, and then it begins to inch forward. Eventually, a lady comes by with a blue form for us to fill out, and then again later to collect money.

There is a spoiled brat three up on us in line. He looks to be at least seven years old and large enough to hold his smaller brother. But he insists on being held by his mother while all of his siblings play on the handrails nearby. He screams to be put down, and then screams to get his shoes tied. He sits on the lower handrails and screams while the other kids play, and then throws a tantrum until his mother picks him up again. Her other kids are all normal.

An elderly lady in front of us sits down at every opportunity. She volunteers that her bad hip hurts when she stands and when she sits, so itís almost not worth the bother.

A small boy in line ahead of us is screaming. He's apparently seen the same TV news we saw last night, featuring at least ten minutes of one small boy screaming and sobbing as he gets his shot. Our host lady spends a lot of time with him, insisting it won't hurt. He finally settles down some, but is still apprehensive. I want to tell him the security guard standing nearby is there to hold down small children because of the severe pain, but I suppress the notion.

As we approach the booth, a little girl ahead of us throws a fit in her mother's lap before she gets stuck. She squirms and screams frantically while her mother is trying to hold her still -- arms and legs flailing wildly in every direction. The mother can't hold her still enough for the two seconds it takes to get the shot. In the end the nurse suddenly gets a shocked look on her face and stares off into the crowd. The little girl stops her tantrum long enough to see what the nurse is looking at, and the nurse sticks it to her and has withdrawn the needle before she realizes it has happened. While she's deciding how to react the nurse says, "we're done, you can get down." The little girl never lets out another peep.

We've been in line only an hour and 15 minutes, and it's finally our turn. I never feel the needle at all, and my soul mate has almost the same experience.

All-in-all, it took a much shorter time than we expected when we saw the line; not a bad experience at all. Kudos to the Dr. Art Mollen Flu Shot Clinic!

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Thursday December 4, 2003 - Back In The Saddle

After over a week without telephone or internet service the phone man came today. Eureka! It's like being born again! Too late, though; today's response to a Dec. 1st email request for a telephone interview goes unanswered. . .

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1A Special Memory Wedding Chapel, 800 S. Fourth Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101, (800) 962-7798.

2Guest Articles: Our Man In PNG.

3Santa Monica, California has been forced to buy drinking water for the past eight years due to MTBE pollution, and Santa Monica is only the tip of the nationwide iceberg. Greater Los Angeles and the rest of the nation are expected to follow.

 
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